Excerpt from The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich
The Editors of this volume have found the labour involved in its production, and the amount of time and research which it has cost them, much greater than they anticipated when they first entered upon their task: but they have found their reward in the absorbing interest of the subject, which has increased upon them in the course of their investigations.
The long-lost Life of St William of Norwich is a unique contribution to English Hagiography, and indeed to Hagiography in general: it is the starting-point (and this should be carefully noted) in the history of the myth of Jewish ritual murders. Its importance, moreover, as an original document illustrating the religious history of England in the twelfth century is not likely to be overlooked or underrated.
There are some subordinate matters which the Editors at one time hoped that they might be able to work out with more elaboration than they have been able to bestow upon them. Such are the origin of the obscure custom of compelling certain penitents to wear iron rings on the arm or leg, the observance of Maundy Thursday as a 'dies absolutionis,' and the persistence of certain popular beliefs, such, for example, as that illustrated in Book V. c. 3. They have, however, thought it advisable to leave to others the elucidation of these points. Specialists may perhaps be able to deal with them satisfactorily.
Such errors as they have discovered in the text and translation have been noted in the table of Corrigenda. It is to be feared, however, that some blunders have survived.
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